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washington. helping to kick off our special coverage, chris matthews, host of msnbc "hardball" is live in washington, d.c. at the lincoln memorial and where all of today's event will take place. chris, good morning. let's set the scene for everybody. as we understand the program for today, we have three presidents, a host and current and former future civil rights and leaders and politicians taking the stage. truly a diverse program but we all look back 50 years ago to those vivid images that still inspire today. >> thomas, this is going to be a hot day. it's not that hot. it's sweltering today but not as bad as it could get in washington. it's drizzling and may clear up. i expect there is heated rhetoric today. this country is divideded right now, heavily and sharply divided between the one reject an african-american president and rejected him from the day he was elected and the day they heard he might be elected.
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the other half of the country almost pouting with this illusion right now. gee whiz. why isn't this greater? pef an african-american president and things not happening and almost dull with things not happening. i think that combination of frustration and rejection are going to clash today. i think the heat of the rhetoric today is going to be much sharper even than it was 50 years ago. >> we do have an interesting statement coming from former president george w. bush relieving a statement as we look there at the martin family there under that umbrella as they all assemble. this is from president bush. our country has come a long way since that bright afternoon 50 years ago, yet our journey to justice is not flel comrooet. just to the ea complete. there are on the national mall our president whose story reflects the promise of america will help us honor the man who inspired millions to redeem that promise. president bush refers to the
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promise of america that is reflected in president obama. when we think about that, how significant does that weigh on this presidency that basically barack obama really personifies, comes to life as the dream of mlk? >> good for george w. bush. i thought it was a nice statement. i'm not going to question that. but to say this. at least back in 1939 when marion anderson had to sing here, "my country 'tis of thee" rather than the constitution hall they said the reason because she was black. at least they were honest back then. today in american politics you have donald trump who hangs around with mitt romney talking about the president being an illegal immigrant. you have people talking about nullification of the law of the land. you got people talking impeachment like coburn and ted cruz out there. they never say their problem with obama is that he is black but look at the pattern. the pattern is rejection of his legitimacy at the first point saying he is not really here illegally. the law he has passed the land
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mark bill pass in 2010. it's an attempt to impeach him on no grounds. at least the daughters of the american revolution knew what they were saying and they said it outloud. he is black. she's black, she can't sing here. these guys today use all of the techniques of nullification and talking about illegitimacy. they talk about impeaching the president on grounds they can't come up with. at least in the old days they were honest about it. today, they are not. that's how rough it's going to be today, i think. >> you talk about the round-about ways that those on the right want to try to blow that dog whistle about race. let's talk specifically about the president and race. because there are certain moments, chris, even before his presidency, that forced him to talk about that very issue. however, he has been more vocal the last couple of months but this is not as easy topic for him to address. do you think in the time he has
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left as president that he needs to be more forceful on the issue of race? today could be the catalyst, this type of speech on this anniversary, the 50th anniversary to help bring dr. king's message full circle? >> name another president in our history, he is 44. the first 43, name one of the 43 that had to show his papers? who had to show his papers? that is what he had to do. he had show evident legitimately born in honor allow. that is how racist it was on the right and no doubt what they were doing. they forced him to get out of his car and show his driver's license and basically what they were doing to this guy and humiliated him in doing that and now talking impeachment and nullification. whatever president fought for and believed in. a lot of republican presidents thought about it including nixon and teddy roosevelt.
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because he got it, they are trying to erase it. it's that serious in if you listen. if you talk like everything is fine like george w. bush, you don't hear or see anything. if you pay stark attention what is happening the last four and a half years you see the game. half the country has rejected this guy as president through the voices of their leaders. maybe it's 47%. they don't like. but it's about 50/50 right now. the trouble is those who do believe in him are pouting right now and pouting is not a good political movement. >> i want to give everybody a quick update on where we stand for today's activities, chris. we are a few moments away from the first speaker but we are going to be hearing from former presidents beginning at 1:00 p.m. president clinton will speak first and followed by president carter and president obama will give his address. at 3:00 this afternoon, a half century to the minute the bells will toll at the same moment 50 years ago when dr. king uttered the famous words "let freedom
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ring." the bell ceremony will include sound in d.c. and across the country at 3:00 p.m. all around. so you'll notice that taking place. joining our conversation now civil rights activist and host of msnbc "politics nation" the reverend al sharpton who is addressing the event later today. as you've been listening to what chris says and as we talk about how far we have come and we celebrate where we are today, we still have a long way to go, but remind all of us -- i was talking to my mom earlier today about what it meant for her as a 20-year-old woman to watch this speech. she knew it was history in the making as she saw this. the president was only 2 at the time. i know you were a young man at the time. but people traveled all across the country filtering into washington, d.c. they hitchhiked to get there. explain where we are today and what that means as we look back on that and we think about what it meant to get there to be a part of that moment in history.
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>> well, i was 8 and not here but i grew up under those that made the journey and have been privy to work with many that organized it. dr. king's executive director, they talked about how people had to hitchhike, but with the stories that really got to me was people rode the back of buses in some states until they could get across the mason dixon line. people slept in cars that didn't get on a bus because motels that wouldn't rent them a room and coffee shops that wouldn't sell them a cup of coffee in '63 to come to this march. we had a huge crowd protesting about a lot of things that happened here on saturday. i said to them as bad as things are now, and we have got to correct it, i agree, just electing a black president is not fulfilling the dream. think of how we came here and think how our mothers and fathers and grandparents had to
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come here. this ought to inspire us to know we can correct the things of today because look at what their coming changed. the fact that barack obama is president validated the whole fight to make it possible for barack obama, but it also gives a sense of urgency why we can't be satisfied with just the fact that we have a barack obama. so one of the things, thomas, that i stress today is that if we really want to fulfill the dream, barack obama is not the new dr. king. he's the new john kennedy. he is the new lyndon johnson, which is why it's so egregious that they try to take away from the legitimacy of his presidency because drrks king and others thought he could be possible but not as him. people in civil rights are behaving as they are behaving. he is in another realm and he is even being profiled in that realm which is why we have to continue to fight. >> i know a lot of as you point
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out want to make these parallels to mlk and the president. this is the president of the united states, though. while he does personify, really embody the dream it goes well beyond what mlk tried to lay out 50 years ago in that "i have a dream" speech. what do you think the president wants to do today? because, obviously, he feels the onus, the weight of what it means to be in the position that he is in, to stand in the shadows there of the lincoln memorial and in the shadows of mlk, and really speak to this nation, to try to talk about the racial divide that still exists, but not to discount how far we have come. >> well, he met with faith leaders and i on monday and he said that he is going to make a speech. he didn't tell us what, but, clearly, he has got to also deal with his presidency. when he leaves here, he has to deal with the crisis in syria and he has to deal with the economy and a lot of things.
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i think he will deal with the history of where we are, but i also hope that he will deal with the continued inequality, the wealth gap, the employment gap between blacks and whites in this country today is the same as it was in '63. we still not there yet. we still doubly unemployed and people trying to voter suppression schemes. i hope he addresses all of that. i think if we do not deal with what is on the table today, we have betrayed dr. king, which is why you have hundreds of thousands -- a couple of hundred thousand here on saturday as we kick this off protesting and marching through the streets to give the message, yes, we salute and celebrate 50 years later, but let's not act like we have arrived when you have people still ching their lips dripped with the word of interposition and nullification when it comes out voting rights and it comes to criminal justice system. >> reverend, as we have learned in this country, it takes the people a real movement to change what is going on in washington,
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d.c. the president gets criticized a lot for trying to change washington from the outside/in and a lot of people criticize that he goes out to campaign. but what we have seen over history, it really is the american people collectively that come to d.c. and insist on the change that the country needs. what do you hope to impart today to inspire young millennials out there who might not be fully versed the last five decades and where we need to go in the five decades ahead of us in the words you're talking today? what do you hope to inspire from people? >> i hope so that i we must really celebrate how far we have come. but the real way to celebrate is to continue the journey. don't betray history by letting us stay where we are and we must fight for everyone's rights. you can't fight for any civil rights without fighting for all. and that includes those in the latino community with immigration. women who still do not make the
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same as men. gays and lesbians. we have got to fight to open america up and make it fair and even and equal for everyone. that is going to be the message i give. we are in 2013 still dealing with inequality. what '63 taught us we can deal with it but can't deal with it expecting it to come from washington down. movements come from the ground up, not from the top down. >> reverend, stick around. our chris matthews is staying with us too. i encourage all of us to stay with msnbc for our special coverage all day long of the 50th anniversary of the march on washington. coming up today at 4:00 p.m., tamron hall will host an msnbc special presentation of martin luther king fientire "i have a dream" speech. we are making history today together. but we want to know how you are advancing the dream in your life. snap a picture and tweet us with the #advancingthedream.
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visit to see pictures other people have already sent in. here is what some of my colleagues and some of you had to say about how you are advancing the dream. [ male announcer ] running out of steam? ♪ now you can give yourself a kick in the rear! v8 v-fusion plus energy. natural energy from green tea plus fruits and veggies. need a little kick? ooh! could've had a v8. in the juice aisle. with master griller and sity pro-tailgater, matt connor need a little kick? ooh! who's secretly serving steaks from walmart. it's a steak over! dude, it's so good. it's juicy. it's nice and tender. only one in five steaks is good enough to be called walmart choice premium steak. all these steaks are from walmart. oh my gosh! top ten most tender steaks i've had. i'm going to start buying meat at walmart. walmart's prices are so low you could have steak at every game. it's 100% satisfaction guaranteed. try it.
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welcome back now to our special coverage today of the 50th anniversary of the martin luther king, jr. i have a dream speech in washington, d.c. joining us our conversation is marc morial. we are moments away from one of the first speakers andrew young who is talking in a moment so we will break was and go to that once he is introduced. as we look back, marc, over 50
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years now and look at what this speech and what it meant to so many people back then that were fighting for civil rights in this country, we look back at how far we have come. but for people, though, that were living through that time, was this speech -- was this show of support, the hundreds of thousands of people that ascended on the mall, was that seen as a radical move? >> i think at the time it was radic radical. it was unprecedented for there to be such a mass demonstration, an interracial mass demonstration here in washington, d.c. the climate was tense at the time. there were critics, both from dixie crats and southern right wingers, along with those in the civil rights movement, as well as president kennedy who feared that somehow the march would backfire. history tells us another story. it was a seminal moment in the 20th century and it ushered in a
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nonviolent social revolution and began this nation in living up to the true promise of its great decreed in the declaration of the independence and the constitution. now we face today's challenges which i think center around the economy, center around economic disparities and center around jobs and poverty. >> marc, dr. king, did the movement itself take its cues from them that the kennedy administration? they have put forth some courageous, some well thought-out antidiscrimination and it obviously did not go far enough. who was taking cues from who back then i believe, in many respects, there was dance going on between the kennedy administration and the civil rights movement, because john kennedy, as a president that will candidate, had made some commitments which helped him win a narrow victory in the 1960
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election. by the time early 1963 came, the civil rights leadership was impatient, rightfully so, because he had no lived up fully to his commitments and really wanted to wait until after his 1964 re-election campaign to fully embrace the challenges of civil rights. randolph and king and young and others believed it was important to put pressure on the president while, at the same time, demonstrating support amongst the american public to on build the american will. dr. king's speech and his words were really directed at a broad audience. not simply the audience that was here on the mall on august 28th, 1963. but to a broad american audience and to really to cloak civil rights which i think was brilliant in the values of the american constitution, in the declaration of independence, and really talking to people about
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the commitments that had been made after the nation fought a difficult, costly, and bloody war, that being the civil war. >> mark, when we talk about the modern day values of where we are and what we have learned from our history that is going to then carry us into the future, when they think about the kids across the country, most of our school children just going back to school starting this week. but when we think about millennials who are just starting out, maybe after college right now and learning about how our political system works, why do you think it's people who may not know about our history to watch today and be inspired on what they are going to see today? >> it's so important because the values of what was discussed in 1963, the movement, if you will, brought about change. what i hope millennials and other recognize they have it within their power to bring about change. they need not feel powerless nor
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cynical. >> we are introducing andrew young who was a good friend of dr. king. ♪ i woke up this morning with my mind ♪ come on help me! ♪ i woke up this morning with my mind ♪ ♪ stand on freedom hallelujah ♪ come on up here, jayreese! hallelujah. ♪ i'm walking and talking with my mind ♪ ♪ my mind was stand on freedom ♪ ♪ walking and talking with my mind stand on freedom ♪ ♪ walking and talking with my mind stand on freedom ♪
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halleluj hallelujah ♪ 50 years ago when we came here, we came from a battle, we came from a battle in birmingham. but that have just a few months before, before martin luther king came to speak of his dream. he had been through bombings, jailings, beatings, he had been snatched from his jailhouse cell in dekalb county and put in chains and taken down to the penitentiary in the middle of the night and thought it was going to be his last night on earth. he went through the battles of albany and birmingham and came out victorious. but we knew that the fight was just beginning and we knew that we had a long, long way to go and this was just the start.
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now he came here representing the southern christian leadership conference, saying that we were going to redeem the soul of america from the triple evils of racism, war, and poverty. he came not talking so much about racism nor war. his speech was about poverty and he said that the constitution was a promissory note to which all of us would fall error, but that when men and women of color presented their check at the bank of justice, it came back marked insufficient funds. but then he said he knew that wasn't the end. but 50 years later, we are still here trying to cash that bad check. 50 years later, we are still dealing with all kinds of problems, and so we are not here to claim any victory.
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we are here to simple say that the struggle continues. but a long time ago when ralph abernathy would stand with him and things would get difficult, ralph would say, well, i don't know what the future may hold, but i know who holds the future. and martin would say that the moral ark of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. and then he would say, true forever on the scaffold and wrong on the fold. but the scaffold holds it beyond. keeping watch above his own. i want to say to you this morning, i want to say -- ♪ i got a feeling everything is going to be all right ♪ ♪ i have got a feeling everything is going to be all right ♪ ♪ i've got a feeling
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everything is going to be all right ♪ ♪ be all right be all right be all right ♪ pray on and stay on and fight on! >> that was ambassador andrew young speaking. the former mayor of atlanta. he was a good friend of dr. king. he joined dr. king's activist group in 1961 and he also helped draft the civil rights act and the voting rights act of 1965. it was in 1977 that he was confirmed ambassador to the united nations. our chris matthews is standing by with our coverage and watching just there. chris, what did you make of how ambassador young did? he got the crowd going singing front and back there. i thought it was interesting, though, probably the most known line for mlk he quoted was the ark of the universe is long but it bends toward justice. >> well, there is so much --
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first of all, when you reach a certain age like he has, the ambassador, i guess you can let it hang out a little bit. that guy is totally cool. i mean, he wasn't afraid of his singing voice which is, obviously, very good. the black church obviously played a big part in the big speech here 50 years ago. my country 'tis of thee. martin luther king started off his speech talking about five score, years ago which is a hundred years, using the language of abraham lincoln of the gettysburg address. going back to my country 'tis of thee, let freedom ring, the theme of today, goes back to the song which marion anderson sang here on these steps in 1939 when she wasn't allowed to speak or sing at the national -- at the -- at the -- what do you call it? the national constitution center. so i think there is a lot of music and a lot of black church lyrics you're going to hear today.
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i think andrew young is very much a part of that tradition. >> he let it all hang out as you said best, chris. >> exactly. >> we will take a break and back with much more as we continue our special coverage of the 50th anniversary of the march on washington. we are back right of this. ♪ you're not made of money, so don't overpay for boat insurance. geico, see how much you could save.
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♪ every now and then i get a little bit tired ♪ ♪ of craving something that i can't have ♪ ♪ turn around barbara ♪ i finally found the right snack ♪ ♪ welcome back to our special coverage today here on msnbc of the 50th anniversary of the march on washington. right now tens of thousands are gathering on the national mall. it is a humid and somewhat rainy day in d.c. but it's not dampening any of the spirits of the people who have come together to celebrate where we have come in 50 years as a country and celebrate the legacy that is left behind by mlk and certainly to celebrate the words of our president. he will be speaking coming up this afternoon. joining me is chris matthews, host of "hardball." also eugene robinson who is an msnbc contributor and "the
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washington post" columnist and our melissa perry. i thought of you, melissa, during andrew young's speech who started off, we are looking right now at the mayor of d.c., vincent gray. during ambassador young's speech that he said the struggle continues. so all i could think of was your daddy and your birthday cards where he would sign, love daddy, the struggle continues and i think of you. >> exactly. in fact, i think i sent up a little cheer when i heard ambassador young say it. in part because, of course, my father always wrote in my birthday cards the struggle continues as well as in myer brother's and sister's. that is because he was part of that movement. i had an opportunity this weekend just before the commemorative march on saturday to interview both my father and his twin brother. they were 21 years old on the day of the march on washington in 1963, august 28th. they were there. my dad, a rising senior at
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howard university. howard university had a strong contingent of students there on saturday and undoubtedly there today as well. and it was a reminder of the kind of intergenerational nature of the struggle. i think you also heard from ambassador young that even though we do have to continue to struggle, despite the fact that there are still structural barriers to full equality for americans, he also had a sense of optimism. he brought the music there. and also just the sense that nothing will turn us around. that we will continue to move forward and i think that is part of the point of these marches is to bear up again the emotional, the psychological and the communal spirit necessary to do the continuing work. >> you talk about the intergenerational work that happened back then, eugene, let me ask you that the intergenerational work that needs to continue today. asbest ambassador young brought there were bombings and beatings and jailings and burning crosses during that time 50 years ago.
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that isn't what we see today when we take talk about civil rights and they are challenged still when we think about voting rights in this country, but what is the message as we look to stream together and thread together the intergenerational movement needed to take the country forward over the next 50 years? >> i think it's very important to be able to feel a sense of progress. august 28th, 1955, emmett till was dragged from his cousin's home in mississippi and lynched. that lynching was part of what launched a civil rights movement. in 1963 on august 28th, dr. king stood and articulated a dream for the nation. on august 28th, 2008, president obama or then senator obama stood and accepted the nomination of the democratic party for the u.s. presidency. today, he will speak to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march. from that lynching on august 28th to this moment of an african-american president on august 28th, there have been real accomplishments.
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there have been real changes. we have to acknowledge that, in fact, we have made progress as a country. at the same time, that we must absolutely recognize the continuing structural barriers that exist in terms of economic inequality, unfairness in the workplace, lack of opportunity in housing, often lack of opportunity in education from k through 12, as well as in higher education, and, of course, the realities of continuing residential segregation that impact everything from our health to our opportunities to get to know one another to sort of make this interracial possibility of america a reality. and so i think it's both in a moment like this, a reflection on what we have accomplished and communicating that optimism to young people. at the same time, that we point out to them they will need to take on the mantle. in fact, develop new strategies for addressing new kinds of structural inequalities. >> eugene, what do you expect to hear from the president today? obviously, he understands how
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important this moment is, not only to his presidency, but in the history books. >> thomas, what i do not expect to hear is an attempt to match or recreate the cadences and the he wi eloquence of dr. king's speech. i expect to hear him talk about the interjgenerational and challenges of today. i was a little kid in 1963. i remember when if you took a drive through the south, you had to pack the car as if you were loading a covered wagon from the wagon trail west, because you couldn't stop anywhere to eat. you couldn't stop to sleep overnight. those are not the challenges we have today.
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they are subtler but in a sense more preinitiationus. the legal framework for the inequality are there. there are patterns of life and systemic patterns of discrimination that militate against the realization of dr. king's crime. >> who was performing was the ceo and founder of the dream day academy. this is angus king, a senator from maine, who is speaking. he was there 50 years ago. are we going to listen in? let's go ahead and listen in real quickly. >> they came by but, they came by car. one even roller skated here from chicago. they slept the night before in buses and cars, on friends' floors, and in churches. 50 years ago, this morning, we
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started in small bunches of people on the side streets of this great city. we join together in larger streams moving toward the main arteries of washington. then we came together in a mighty river of people down to this place, old, young, black, white, protestant, catholic and jew. we stopped at the washington monument and heard peter, paul, and mary sing of the hammer of justice and the bell of freedom. 50 years ago, americans came to this place around a radical idea, an idea at the heart of the american experience, an idea new to the world in 1776, tested
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in 1865, renewed in 1963, and an idea still new and radical today. all men and women are created equal. all men and women are created equal. 50 years ago, at this place, at this sacred place, americans sent a message to their leaders and around the world that the promise of equality of opportunity, equality before the law, equality in the right to freely participate in the benefits and responsibilities of
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citizenship plied to everybody. not the right color or accident of birth. this is what martin luther king meant when he said his dream was deeply rooted in the american dream. and the 150 years ago, 150 years ago this summer, a mighty battle was fought not far from this place. and this idea, the idea of equality, the idea of america hung in the balance. one of the soldiers on those hot july days was a young college professor from maine named joshua lawrence chamberlain and returning to the battlefield of gettysburg many years later, he expressed the power of the place where such momentous deeds were
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done. here is what he said. here is what joshua chamberlain said. in great deeds, something abides. on great fields, something stays. forms change and past bodies disappear, but spirits linger to c consecrate the ground for the vision place of souls. generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to this deathless place to ponder and dream and, lo, the shadow of a mighty presence will wrap them
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in its bosom and the power of the vision shall pass into their souls. 50 years ago today, this place was a battlefield. no shots were fired, no cannons roared, but a battlefield, nonetheless. a battlefield of ideas, the ideas that define us as a nation. as it was once said of church hill martin luther king on that day mobilized the english language and marched it into war and in the process, caught the conscience of a nation. and here today on these steps 50 years on, indeed, something abides and the power of the vision has surely passed into our souls.
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>> please welcome the mayor of hattiesburg, mississippi, johnny dupree. >> you're listening to senator angus king of maine. he attend the march on washington as 19 and a student at dartmouth college at that time. one thing you may have noticed in the backdrop a large bell. the bell from the 16th street baptist church in birmingham, baum that on a sunday in 1963 was bombed aelg kill four little girls. that bell will toll this afternoon where bells will be ringing around the country at the exact time that dr. martin luther king expressed the sentiment from the scene right there. we want to know how you are advancing the dream. that is a big qover the week. we asked you to snap a picture
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and you can visit to to see other pictures people have sent in to us as well. here are what some of my colleagues and some of you are telling us about advancing the dream as we head off to break. [ male announcer ] this one goes out to all the allergy muddlers. you know who you are. you can part a crowd, without saying a word... if you have yet to master the quiet sneeze... you stash tissues like a squirrel stashes nuts... well muddlers, muddle no more. try zyrtec®. it gives you powerful allergy relief. and zyrtec® is different than claritin® because zyrtec® starts working at hour one on the first day you take it. claritin® doesn't start working until hour three. zyrtec®. love the air.
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welcome back to our special and continuing coverage of the march on washington. the 50th anniversary. 'ws bring you back, we show you two very distinct and vivid images. on the left of your screen is mlk's grave in atlanta and on the right is the memorial for dr. king in washington, d.c. for those who attend the march in 1963 it's time to reflect how far this nation was come in 506 years and newer generation a day to think about
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how to advance the dream. we want to go to ron mott who is steps away from the lincoln memorial. explain to us what you're seeing and hearing and tell us so far the weather is holding out too. >> reporter: yeah, finally we got a break in the weather. a great setting here next to the reflecting pool. quite a few people here not nearly as many as were here in 1963. that was 225 thundershow,000 pe. people have come from all over. met two women from texas and i want to talk to some gentlemen who have come all this way from my earth state of kansas from the wichita area. roosevelt and dean. how important was it for you to be here, roosevelt? >> it was very important for me to be attorney 50 years ago and born and raised in mississippi and to experience the things i experienced growing up there and now to have a passion in wichita, kansas to create jobs from young black men to get them out of gangs and get them off
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the streets and this atmosphere. i think back to my grandfather and great grandfather and uncles that went through what they went through that myself would have just a chance, an opportunity that i have now. it is uawesome for me ps this i a once in a lifetime experience and one i never will forget. >> enjoy the day today. this is a picture what dr. king wanted to see for america. how important is it for you to to be here today? >> here to celebrate the dream, to continue the dream. it's not over. you know? as long as there is a disproportionate number of black men in prison and jail cells, they are not free. we have to continue this dream. we are here today to celebrate, but it's not over. >> reporter: it's not over. i think a question a lot of folks will be asking today, thomas, is how far along have we come on that dream? obviously, we have a very fractured congress that leads the federal government and some of that has spread out moo mine street and what these folks are trying to say we need to come back together because that is what dr. king spoke about so
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eloquently 50 years ago today. >> ron mott, thanks. i think we are seeing a shot of the scene taking place on stage that is peter and paul of peter, paul, and mary. that is sybrina fulton and tracy martin singing along with them, the parents of trayvon martin, the teen who was tragically shot last summer in florida. so joining your continuing coverage, we have chris matthews of "hardball." we have eugene robinson and our melissa harris perry. chris, i want to go back to what ambassador young had said, how he referred to dr. king, referring to our constitution as a promissory note to its people. for those activists and civil rights leaders that look at the "i have a dream" speech, do you think that is a promissory note to those people who are looking for equality today and using the speech when we talk about immigration reform and gender equality and lgbt rights?
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is it fair to have the speech co-oped that way? >> narrow it down. i did it this morning to get ready for today. i went back and watched the speech of,that day. go back i d morning to get ready for today. i went back and watched the speech of martin luther king that day. before it became a great oratory included the great biblical and shakespearian images, it started with a pretty strong statement that there was a proi had sorry note issued in the declaration of independence about equality, general equality, and that it was a bad check. that was the line. street corner line. i just got a bad check. that this crowd back then 50 years ago lit up for. i looked at the face of the crowd. it was regular vernacular english, just got a bad check. that's what the audience reacted to. the first part of the check was an indictment of the
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establishment, the white establishment they reneged on the promise. they hadn't made good and especially the proclamation he emancipation. today it's still about that. every group that wants liberation and equality will eelude to what happened here 50 years. the main challenge for african-americans, i call at any time san andreas fault. racial difference between the former slaefs and white people is the issue. a lot of other concerns, latino rights, immigration, gender rights but still that issue. i wouldn't want to lose that focus today not that focus. >> chris, we're going to go ahead charles steel jr.
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>> people are suffering and hurting. he was saying we must still hit the streets, we must still demonstrate. it was the southern christian leadership conference that god gave us as a vehicle to free us. now we must go back to ground zero. we must continue to march. we must continue to pray because
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through that experience trams and fair minded thinking folks of all ethnicity and background teach us brothers and sisters, teach us how we get free. freedom isn't free because we still must fight for freedom. are you ready to march? are you ready to go? are you ready to demonstrate? we must hit back to the streets and liberate and free our god's children because god is love and love is what love does. we must free the people. thank you so much. >> that was charles steel speaking there. the president and ceo of the southern christian leadership conference the civil rights organization that was central to organizing the march and as we.out the very first president was dr. martin luther king, jr. of the sclc. eugene robinson and melissa harris-perry are still with me.
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as we hear from mr. steel marching and demonstrating is still important in today's world we don't see it as much as we used to. but he seems to be harkening back encouraging and getting more people involved in how people used to get political active for movements. >> certainly it's true we should not lose the strategies that have been effective in the past. at the same time we will also need to innovate new strategies. at this moment for example in south carolina, the south carolina moral monday movement is bringing together north carolinians marching each and every monday they have been for months and they are doing that as a demonstration of their push back against the republican state legislature there in north carolina and particularly the voting restrictions, the funding restrictions on unemployment benefits, on public schools that are occurring there. that's important. but the other part of what they are doing is the kind of key
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legislative efforts to try to change those laws that they are distressed about and at the same time also beginning to think about how to run candidates in the mid-term election to replace and change some of those state legislators who are precisely the people they see as problematic. we have to remember marching is just one part it and that even when we look back on august 28th, 1963, the march on washington is not equivalent to the civil rights movement, it is simply the iconic moment that we celebrate but the civil rights movement is much longer than that. remember edgars was assassinated in his driveway for his efforts around voting rights weeks before the march. earlier four little girls murdered and martyred in their sunday school best just weeks after the march. the march is just one moment. it's not as though people show up on the mall in washington and then everything is fixed. >> all right. i'll ask you to stand by.
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eugene and chris stand by. i'll tell everybody coming up we're waiting for remarks from congressman castro from texas. he was elected in 2012. he has an identical twin brother. you might remember mayor castro delivered the keynote address at the democratic national convention. congressman castro is coming up here in just a second. eugene, based off of what melissa was saying about moral mondays in north carolina and issues taking place in texas right now what the right would say is securing the vote, securing what our system is in this country to vote. but using north carolina as an example they took away early registration for those under 18. it was going help 16 and 17-year-olds get into the process and get into the system so that they would be able to vote once they turned 18. that's gone away. how come in this country instead of securing the vote we don't
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talk about expanding the vote and that is by going after our youth and making sure they are involved? >> obviously, that's what we should be talking about, thomas. the north carolina legislation seems to be nakedly partisan in an attempt to suppress a democratic vote and that's what they are trying to do. >> eugene, stand by for me. here now is congressman joaquin castro. >> at 38 years old i also speak to you as someone of a grateful generation, grateful for the struggles and the moments and the blood and the tears and all of the work of the civiling rights pioneers who stood here 50 years ago today and those who marched in the streets of selma, those who organized, people in factories and farms and those who took their battles to the courts like thurgood marshal and
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garcia, those who organized people to vote and exercise our rights. those like willie velasquez, my own parents in the 1960s were very involved in a movement inspired by martin lewter king and the men and women who stood here. they were active in the chicano movement, the latin no civiling rights movement. i want to say thank you to them and all of you. i want to make a promise to you. as somebody of a younger generation of americans, i want to promise you that all of the struggles and all of the fights and all of the work and all of the years that you put in to making our country a better place, to helping our leaders understand that freedom and democracy are prerequisites to opportunity i want to you know that this generation of americans will not let that dream go. that we will carry on and make sure that this country lives up
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to the values and principles for which you fought so very hard. thank you very much. please welcome his excel lency harry christie the prime minister -- >> that was texas congressman joaquin castro speaking on the national mall. 50 years ago today, a quarter of a million people fwaerd here on the washington mall in what would become one of the defining moments in american history. at the time african-americans were still fighting for their right to vote. nearly half of them lived in poverty and segregation divided the country. today half a century later we'll see the commemoration of that moment. it's time for the country and its leaders to reflect how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. at 2:45 p.m. eastern time president obama will give a speech on the steps of the lincoln memorial. the very same spot where reverend martin luther king, jr. first shook a nation from utes slumber with the words i have a
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dream. joining us today from national mall is the host of msnbc's "hardball" kris matthews, eugene robinson, joining me from chicago is former senior adviser to president obama director at the university of chicago institute of politics and an msnbc political analyst david axelrod and in nashville executive editor at random house. chris ma the hurricanes my colleague and friend someone i look to, someone who knows this city well. we're talking about the march on washington and yet in today's world washington has become synonymous with a place of dysfunction, of anger, of partisanship, of rancor. i guess to what degree can we rekindle that possibility. how can this society recode what washington means sway place of

MSNBC August 28, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PDT

News/Business. Live news coverage, breaking news and current news events with host Thomas Roberts. New.

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